Forum Moderation Best Practices Part 2- Propose an answer and then mark it 7 days later

Forum Ninjas Blog

Hello! This post continues the conversation from last week’s blog post:


I ended it by pointing to one article in particular, where we (Microsoft TechNet/MSDN forum owners) hammered out some hard guidelines:


So what are those guidelines? I thought you’d never ask!

Today we’ll dig into the first two:

  1. Propose an answer first. Give the Asker/OP a chance to select the right answer.
  2. After proposing an answer, wait one week (7 days), and then mark the answer(s). This gives the OP more than enough time to return. More often than not, the OP will not mark an answer and will not reply again. After waiting the week, then mark the answer. The Asker/OP is your client, and you want to help him and make him happy. Many OPs have gotten angry when Moderators mark answers without waiting a few days (waiting 7 days sets a clear message that the Asker/OP is the client and that you are patient). Plus the people who answer the questions get 5 more points (15 Recognition Points instead of 10) if the Asker/OP is the one who marks the reply as an answer. One exception (to proposing first) is if the thread hasn’t been responded to for over 6 months (you’re cleaning up a forum). But even then, it’s better to propose first if you’re uncertain about an answer.

Well, it kind of answers itself as to “why” we ask this. First, we want the OP to mark it, but if the OP isn’t going to return (which too often is the case), then we still want to mark it. Second, this makes people feel valued, which they are. They don’t answer questions to get stats, points, or medals, but it just simply feels good to be appreciated, and we greatly appreciate the community contributions!

And the bottom line is that the more questions are marked as answered, the more people answer questions. If we don’t mark answers, most often, the forum dries up. A lot of people still ask questions, but fewer and fewer people answer them. That’s not the kind of community we want.

Remember, the Asker/OP is the client. So if they unmark or unpropose, then that’s okay. We just want to make sure they’re willing to come back on, explain why, and help us move the topic forward.

Ideally, we built a moderation team for that particular forum, so we might have different moderators/answerers propose and mark answers.

Of course, this will lead to the debate of whether someone should propose their own answers. This is a meaty enough topic for another day. While we do allow that capability for a reason (it is by design that you can do this), it should be used as a last resort. Ideally, the moderation teams work together, so that it’s not necessary. So that’s the short explanation. But we’ll dig into it some more later.

If you feel overwhelmed, like you don’t have a moderator team (you’re the team) for your forum, then please reply to this post with a nominee in your forum to help you out! We make people Answerers if they have at least 6 months of experience in that forum (so the forum community knows them), they have 100 answered questions, and they have 1K Recognition Points. That’s the bar that can be equally measured. To be made a Moderator, we’d like to see you faithful in the Answerer role for 3+ months, or an MVP or Microsoft employee. And for both roles, you have to agree to follow the Forum Moderation Guidelines (in the article linked below).

Read all the related guidelines on TechNet Wiki here:


May the Forums Be With You! (Don’t be a rogue one.)

– Ninja Ed


This post is part of a conversation in this series of blog posts:

Comments (5)

  1. Burak Uğur says:

    Hi Ed
    I guess this strategy already changed?Since december ms moderator just select “Propose as answer” but then leave it.Do not mark as answer later.(after 7 days or later)

    1. It’s a good thought. The platform isn’t built for that, though. It just requires a few tweaks to make that work. It basically would need to be more like Stack Overflow. There’s only a slight emphasis on marked answers, and only OPs can mark (no proposals). The rest of the emphasis is on votes. But on MSDN/TechNet forums, the emphasis is on marked answers (points, filters, UI prominence, etc.). So to change the methods, it makes the most sense to change the platform. But it would only require a few tweaks (filter, UI prominence, and recognition points/medals). If that was to happen though, the point system and medals would have to be fair and transition well.

  2. pituach says:

    Thanks for sharing, this is great series of blog posts!
    Very useful

Skip to main content